Tuesday, August 26, 2014

From the Studio (and beyond of course.)

Hi Sweet things!! School is almost here...coming on Tuesday.  I'm kind of dragging myself across the start line at this point but we're going to get there one way or another aren't we?  (grin) Maybe if I hadn't decided I needed to marathon through Downton Abbey seasons 1-4 the last 2 weeks I might be better prepared.  Um. Yes, well, it is, what it IS.  Ha!

Will you bear with me today if we talk a bit of shop?  It's been ages since I did a post on this sort of things so I hope you don't mind so very much... That said, I've been working in my shop today, getting a few items underway for their Fall/Winter debut and I'm sharing them with you here right now! I recently decided to put a few prints away permanently and they are currently listed at half price, as "LAST CHANCE" items, until my stock is gone.  Most of the items I am showing you here are only available over the next few months, as "LIMITED TIME" items. 

I'm starting with my favorite.   This little acorn variety print.  I won't lie to you- it's already hanging in my hallway.  Yes, yes, it is. I couldn't resist!!

(Click here to shop!)
     For those who wanted an "orange" pumpkin in the collection.  You know who you are! 
 I love this print so much I can't stand it.  And it's now found it's permanent home right here, over my jewelry.  Such a good reminder... and cute to boot! 
 I've also brought back returning favorites! 
 Always a best seller.  Get it while it's here.  It always makes me smile. 
 Another favorite... I have this available in a variety of canvas sizes and it truly is my very favorite Christmas decor item. 
Alright that's all for me.  I've worked so hard and I hope you just LOVE the new items (and the returning favorites!)  Happy shopping to YOU! (Click here to shop!)

Now wish me luck on getting my act together with school. (At least Downton season 5 doesn't start until January.)

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Joy listing... as we wind down summer.

Goodness me, it's nearly school time once again. This summer has flown on wings, in my neck of the woods and I bet you'll agree- especially if the bright yellow buses are already ambling down your roads! In our area kids go back the day after labor day. We have so few rainy days in a year that I'm thankful the powers that be keep our kiddos out long enough for us to enjoy it, though September is often the most amazing month up here. We got all our new packages of socks, tennis shoes and jeans plus a few cute shirts (or handsome, if you're Joe) folded and ready to get the tags ripped off the day before. {So funny- my mama never let me take any tags off before the first day and I couldn't wear anything... and I'm just the same with my own kids. It's that first day anticipation and I can't help myself.}

 Ava and I have been doing a Downton Abbey marathon, and we're trying to get to the end of season 4 before school begins. In a way I'm totally ready for the routine, and the lunch making and carting them around to music lessons and dance and all that... and I'm ready to buckle down at 5:30 every day with homework around the kitchen table while I start thinking about dinner... but in a way I am NOT! I love letting them sleep in (and they SLEEP IN). I'm not quite ready for the chore of lunch making and the daily grind of homework every night and always carting someone around to their event while I scramble in my head over dinner plans. Ha!

I am a woman, and therefore, contradictory. I can own it.

I am however, ready for jeans, sweaters, pumpkin spice, candles and fur throw blankets.

Anyway, today I wanted to share some of our county fair photos (all taken from my phone and some showed up on Instagram, others would have if the day had been longer) along with more moments from my summer thankful list. What a treat it has been keeping track of these small moments and plugging them quickly into my phone.  I hope you enjoy reading them and they inspire you to capture a few of your own joy list thankful moments!  

Dahlias and the way they brighten any surface.

Going to my new doctor for the first time and having nurse Nicki sneak in to chat with me in the midst of her work day.

Sitting poolside with Alli and bumping into Jen and Hang.
Pre dinner lake swims and cheering joe on as he swam out to the buoy. The icy water that at first took our breath away and goggle wearing hoodlums with wide grins exclaiming "mom this is the best night!!"

A donut run that morning that turned into a wild and truly weird adventure we could only laugh about afterward- especially that part about having to rescue my bike from the bushes where we had hidden it.

Soft puppies the color of ginger that really wanted some of our tailgate party and delighted my children.

Catching up with Nate and Judy and blessing her by remembering that she prefers half and half in her coffee the next morning. Watching them love on my children in every way possible.
Summer mountain hikes that surrounded us with God's glory.

The galvanized bucket in my backyard exploding with petunias and vibrant color. 

Listening to his guitar being strummed on the front porch.

Doing jobs with Julie and Becca and laughing and laughing and deep talks in the car.

Rebecca's beet salad that made me want to sneak a third helping and then taking a plastic container home later that night at her insistence.

Ava making amazing cheeseburger pie for dinner.

Joe, winning 2nd place for his photo at the fair.

Realizing that sometimes compassion must be taught and taking the time to have that talk over dinner.

Driving beside him, struggling not to cry and having him push me gently to let my thoughts out and then marveling at how he can string broken pieces back together with his words and tenderness.

Four year old hugs.

Endings and beginnings.

 My husband's forearms when he holds my niece and watching him toss her in the air every time she gleefully says, "Again?" to him.  Then watching her kiss his cheek as a thank you. 
Being able to pay for the majority of my kids school shopping from my personal earnings and knowing that my contributions to what my man brings in are appreciated.

Polka dotted tee shirts on sale.

Sitting at my picnic table, pouring life out with my oldest friend in the world and the woman who was once my children's first babysitter.

Eating farm fresh blueberries by the handfuls.
Laughing at my son and my brother Jake, (Officer Mc Jakey) ride the zipper, then laughing again because they looked a bit green when they got off. 

Sitting at a work bbq for adrains crew and laughing at their stories.

Saving two window sills worth of heirloom tomatoes after a wind storm snapped off both plants at the bases.

Laughing about life, over the most yummy steak salads on date night, at a favorite restaurant, with cafe lights strung overhead, and wearing a pretty necklace just for him.

His hand grazing mine as we walk and how he always wraps his fingers around mine.

That night ava came out of bed way past her bedtime to talk about how she was concerned that her fish was overweight and it was all I could do not to laugh as adrain admonished her to get back into bed and discuss issues like that in daylight hours.

Joe spontaneously singing vanilla ice with Nate at the picnic table that night after dinner, and how they knew every single word and how we laughed until our bellies hurt.

Raspberries which are and always will be, my very favorite.

Watching a horrific yet compelling reptile show and rolling my eyes every time they asked for a volunteer to drape snakes all over, because my son, sitting in the front row, would shoot his hand straight up and wave wildly.  Then breathing a sigh of relief when they didn't choose him but trying not to show it.

Staying until the sunset, even though I really wanted to go home and being so grateful for my man who pushes me to be a more "fun mama" than my instincts want me to be and leaving happy and full of memories.

How about you... what's on your joylist?   

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Throw-together ideas that hit me in the middle of the night...

Do any of you do this?

I'm laying there, wide awake in the middle of the night, when everyone else in the house is fast asleep... the soft hum of fans blowing the warm summer air all around, and I'm mentally going down a list of thoughts?

Sometimes I've got so many that I have to get out of bed, find a notebook and write them down.  (I saw a pin on Pinterest that said, "I don't trust people who go to bed and fall immediately to sleep- don't they have any thoughts?"  Indeed.  My man is like that.  Right to sleep!) (Secretly envious.)

The other night I was going through one of those nights and as I checked things off in my head I realized I was supposed to host bible study the following night.  I normally love hosting things and yet for whatever the reason, I've been more of a clean out the fridge-throw-it-all-on-the-table phase of life.  And it hasn't bothered me in the slightest because those are often the best parties anyway.

Good hostesses know it's far more about how your friends and loved ones feel IN your house, than how they feel ABOUT your house and the common denominator for making them feel relaxed and comfortable IN your house... is you... not what you do or don't do, not what you serve or how you serve it and for that matter... you can be a good hostess anywhere because that is the definition of hospitality in my humble opinion;  Drawing people out of themselves, setting them at ease in your presence and making memories while doing it... and you can do that anywhere, under any circumstances. 

Though pretty straws and napkins never hurt.  I'm just saying. 
So I'm laying in bed thinking... "What can I feed these girls on the hottest week of the year, without heating up the kitchen or spending much at the store?" and it hits me.  Popcorn!  Who doesn't like popcorn?  Then it hit me even harder... EASY throw together buffet style popcorn bar with a sweet or savory style seasoning shaker and DONE!  Boom!

I loved it.
 I got the cute little buckets years and years ago when we were homeschooling and I stored our markers and such in them- I've used them with parchment paper liners for fries and other fun goodies ever since.  I knew they would make the sweetest containers.  I tossed napkins and straws leftover from a weekend BBQ onto my potting bench over a cut of cheap picnic looking fabric, tossed some drinks in the drink bucket and added some fresh flowers.

Then, I scribbled the "menu" on my chalkboard and popped two bags of microwave popcorn.  Once I filled a big canister with that and added a scoop, I whipped together a sweet and savory topping and filled inexpensive grocery store shakers with them. The "savory" was simply an envelope of ranch dressing mix and the "sweet" was cinnamon and stevia mixed together. (You could do cinnamon and sugar, obviously.)

I ripped some brown paper and stamped it with "sweet" and "savory" and tied them on with twine... and that was it.  

I'm going to tell you something.  Often, I drive myself crazy with open windows in my head at night, but every now and then... that staying awake and thinking business leads to a simple and quick, good idea that makes it's way on my blog.

The popcorn idea was a hit and I'm definitely going to use it again when I'm in a time pinch because I've always got a few bags of it on hand.  And bible study was lovely because we took a million rabbit trail conversations and went where they took us...

Hmm... kind of like the same way my mind works when I'm trying to fall asleep!  Ha!

Do you have any middle of the night "Aha-ideas?" 
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Monday, August 4, 2014

Getting Cozy and being intentional

 Adrain and I are at the stage of life where we've survived babyhood and toddler hood by the skin of our teeth and we've been flung into the deeper waters of tweens and teens.  We hope we survive it and some days are more or less touch and go... But one thing we know for sure- we won't make it out the other side in tact in this world of disposable marriages, unless we are intentional.

{Our kiddos are starting to stay up later and later as they get older.  Naturally.  They lounge all over the sofa and ask to watch their own shows and play the wii with each other and the occasional group of friends, and though I'm always around, listening, and readily available... I suddenly realized I had very few places to retreat to if I wanted a few moments of quiet.  I remember my parents being around but not hovering over the top of my brother and I or my friends and I.  They were always home and checked in frequently and hung out with us a lot, but we also had our own space to connect with peers and so did they.  It was like freedom with accountability and I'm convinced that it helped me make good choices as I moved into young adulthood.}

When I approached Adrain with the idea to create a hideaway in the small nook off our master bedroom, he loved it- providing that it didn't cost much. (Especially in light of the car breakdown we had at the end of spring!)  This bedroom cubby previously housed my small studio space.  It made more sense to transfer all my studio gear into our office (guest room) area, so we did that earlier this summer, (here) and then I shifted mental gears, for flipping this space on a (relative) dime.  I had a couple of friends who have kids the same ages and they have done similar things in their tiny homes and loved it.

I had already been putting ideas together on a pin board, back in late spring, figuring ways I might be able to use things I already had, yet add romantic, relaxing and cozy touches. 

I loved the idea of being able to retreat to a unique space with Adrain occasionally, and spend time being intentional as a couple, while our independence-loving kids venture off and do their own thing for short bursts of time.  (And don't get me wrong, we'll still spend plenty of time together as a family because that's a main priority over the next six or seven years.  Just saying.)

Above, you can see the BEFORE narrow space.  When I envisioned what this space might look like once I had reconfigured it, I had hoped to add some lighting that matched the fixture over our bed, a small television, place to sit, spot to put our feet up, and some task lighting. I did want to keep it simple and I felt like an nice way to make it cost effective, was do a little bit here and there as finances allowed, rather than one big room makeover.  That worked really well for us, though it took a few months from start to today's finish.  Patience always pays off.  What a nice lesson!
We have had to replace all of the roman shades from when we moved in 11 years ago little by little, as they broke, and the back window in our bedroom was the only remaining unbroken shade.  It broke in the spring, and I found the matching drapes from the other window in our bedroom and replaced those.  (From Target, ON SALE!) Then I tackled the light fixture, updating it with a bargain priced item from Lowes. (It matched the one over our bed from years ago.)  It added a bit of fun and I liked that.

My friend Nurse Nicki had given me the ampersand light as a gift last year, and the shelf was an existing item in this space.  I stumbled upon the antler art at the grocery store last month and knew I'd love it on the wall under this shelf. Sweet and simple. 
This foot rest spot was my favorite idea.  I always want a soft place for my feet but I didn't want to spend anything really.  I had the two sea grass poufs from Ikea, purchased a few years ago, and I used two of their $10 faux sheepskin rugs here- one for the floor and tossed one over the poufs.  It was the perfect solution!
We did purchase the small loveseat from Ashley Furniture (our one tiny splurge) and it came with the two cute pillows.  I may change them eventually since they are kind of scratchy textures, but for now they work just fine with the gray, tan, yellow and browns in our bedroom.  The linen ruffled lumbar pillow came from Ikea.
 Now this set up makes me happy.  My man needs his sports so though a simple reading nook would have been just fine for me... I knew a small television was a must and since it's pointed away from the bed, I felt it was a compromise I could handle. (grin) The television was thrifted, and all the other goodies were shopped from around my house. (Free!!) The small and narrow table stand was found for under $15 at Ikea and Adrain was the one who found it.  (Originally, I wanted a wall mounted contraption but this was way better and the cost didn't make Adrain's face get all red. Ha!)  Also, it's close enough to set your iced tea on if you're reading a book on the loveseat. Win-win.
  Personal touches with old favorite kiddo photos...
 The gorgeous vintage typewriter wall art is from my own shop and it's perfect in this space.
 I found a small sconce light that is perfect for reading, not to mention darling in every way.  It screwed into the wall but can also clip onto a surface.  It has gold hardware, a creamy shade and a black and white fabric covered cord.  Be still, my heart.

So there you have it... our new/old little cozy spot, adapted for this stage of life.  I believe in reevaluating what your family's needs are as seasons change, and then making sure you're using the space you have in the best ways possible.  (Though I've already caught a small girl who shall remain nameless, curled up on the loveseat with her book... )

Hmmm... that's not so bad either.  I can envision a few girls movie nights in that space when the guys want to watch boy things like baseball and Braveheart.

So do you have any spaces in your home that need tweaking or rethinking as the stages of life change?  I'd love to read about them in comments!

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